Will the Arrival of Kepler Kick Off a Price War?

The arrival of Kepler was a double-win for consumers. First, NVIDIA's highly anticipated GeForce GTX 680 graphics card upped the pixel pushing performance ante and took pole position as the fastest single-GPU card on the planet, pulling ahead of AMD's Radeon HD 7970 videocard in almost every situation (check out our review here). And secondly, NVIDIA managed to undercut the competition by pricing its GeForce GTX 680 at $500. That's hardly chump change, but hey, it's $50 cheaper than the competition's flagship GPU.

The question is, can we expect a price war to ensue? Conventional wisdom says that AMD has to lower the price of its HD 7970 part because it's no longer the fastest option out there, and it's $50+ more expensive than the one that is. Sounds good in theory, but in practice, vendors are still selling AMD's top-end part at the same price as before Kepler arrived. What gives?

It's a simple matter of supply and demand. Currently, NVIDIA's partners are unable to supply enough GTX 680 cards to satisfy demand. A quick glance at Newegg, for example, shows that every single Kepler card is "OUT OF STOCK" in big green letters. There are more than half a dozen models to choose from ranging in price from $500 to $530 (before any applicable mail-in-rebates) from Asus, EVGA, Galaxy, Gigabyte, MSI, PNY, and Zotac, and not a single one of them is in stock. Meanwhile, the same vendor shows there are ten Radeon HD 7970 cards in stock and ready to ship today. Supply is meeting demand.

Here's the bottom line. If you want the fastest single-GPU graphics card money can buy today, you either have to purchase a Radeon HD 7970 or track down a GeForce GTX 680 from a vendor that actually has one in stock. Either way, you'll probably end up paying too much for what you're getting. Alternately, hang tight and wait for NVIDIA's partners to get a grip on things. Once GeForce GTX 680 cards start trickling into the market place, we suspect AMD will lower prices, perhaps across the board.